Belakovskaia grew up in Odessa, Ukraine, and is a graduate of the Odessa Agricultural University. She came to the United States to play competitive chess. She recalls flying from Moscow to New York City and arriving with little money and knowing only a few English words. Belakovskaia's first job in the United States was slicing watermelons and winning money from the chess hustlers at Washington Square Park. She won $35 the first day, and soon the hustlers would no longer play her because they had lost too much money. Belakovskaia had a brief cameo in the movie Searching for Bobby Fischer in 1993.
Belakovskaia became a naturalized U.S. citizen on November 24, 1999. Later that year, she began graduate work at New York University, and in 2001 earned a Master's Degree in Mathematics in Finance.
Soon after, she got a position as a weather derivatives trader at Williams Cos. in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In May 2001, Belakovskaia became the head of the Weather Derivatives desk at Williams EM&T (Energy, Marketing, and Trading). There, she was recognized as Best Female Employee for her contribution to the Company’s success.
Since January 2011, Belakovskaia has taught finance classes at the Eller College of Management at The University of Arizona. In 2012, she became a member of the American Meteorological Society Committee on Financial Weather/Climate Risk Management. In 2013, she became an honors professor, adding the "Chess, Leadership and Business Strategy" course at UA Honors College to her course load.
In July 1991, she came to the U.S. to play in the Chess World Open in Philadelphia.
In 1993, she was awarded the FIDE Woman Grandmaster title (WGM). Belakovskaia won the New York Women's Chess Championship three times and played on the U.S. team in the Chess Olympiads in 1994, 1996, and 1998.
In 1995, she won the first of her three US Women's Chess Championship titles, tying for first with Sharon Burtman. In 1997, she took second place in the US Women's Championship. The next year she won the title outright, and in 1999 she became champion for the third time. Her third tournament was won through her "superior grasp of the middle game."
In 2000, Belakovskaia was Honored by Howard Golden - president of Brooklyn, City of New York - for superlative skills and outstanding achievement.
In 2010, Belakovskaia started a chess program for children in Tucson, Arizona. She is also a member of the FIDE Chess in Schools commission. In 2013, she coordinated an all girls' chess tournament in Tucson during the month of April.